Pope: The heavens above invite us to walk together in fraternity

In his address read out at the Meeting on Human Fraternity taking place in Saint Peter's Square on Saturday 10 June, Pope Francis says "the heavens above invite us to walk together, to rediscover each other as brothers and sisters and to believe in fraternity as the foundation of our pilgrimage." He praises the Declaration on Human Fraternity prepared by 30 Nobel Prize laureates and signed at the meeting conclusion.

By Thaddeus Jones

Pope Francis offered his welcome and expressed his profound gratitude to all those near and far participating in the Meeting on Human Fraternity taking place in Saint Peter's Square Saturday afternoon on 10 June. The Pope's words came in a message read by Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica and Vicar General for Vatican City. Pope Francis is currently recovering from surgery in hospital and was unable to be present for the event as had originally been planned.

Fraternity and peace

The Pope added his voice to all those present in affirming "the desire for fraternity and peace in the world." The worldwide dimension of the event came through with moving testimonies and interviews of people of all walks of life from around the globe sharing experiences of their trials and tribulations.

All underscored the gestures of goodwill and fraternity that they had received, despite the scars left from harrowing experiences of war, poverty, or suffering. #NotAlone, but united together in solidarity and friendship, they have been able to go forward in life and called on everyone to come together as brothers and sisters to witness to our common humanity and to respond to the call to fraternity. 

“Indeed, the heavens above invite us to walk together, to rediscover each other as brothers and sisters and to believe in fraternity as the foundation of our pilgrimage.”

Participants shared their experiences and testimonies also live with link-ups to over eight countries around the world, including Italy (Trappani), Congo (Brazzaville), the Central African Republic (Bangui), Ethiopia, Argentina (Buenos Aires), Israel (Jerusalem), Japan (Nagasaki), and Peru (Lima). 


Recalling his Encyclical Fratelli tutti, the Pope in his message says authentic fraternity calls us to see each other as a brother or a sister - not just a statistic, or a "other", but a human person who has dignity and merits respect. In our suffering world marked by exploitation and indifference, violence and wars, "tweaks and adjustments are not enough," the Pope writes.

“Only a great spiritual and social covenant born from the heart and centered on fraternity can restore the sacredness and inviolability of human dignity as the core of relationships.”

Action for a culture of peace

The Pope underscored that more than theories we need "concrete gestures" also made together in order to promote a "culture of peace." And we should ask first "what can I give to my brothers and sisters" rather than just focus on what society can do for me. He said let's come up with concrete gestures of building fraternity, even simply reconciling with family members, friends and neighbours, and praying for those who hurt us, helping those in need, speaking words of peace in all places of our lives, and consoling with our closeness those who feel alone.

Balm of tenderness

We are called to "apply the balm of tenderness" to help heal relationships between individuals or peoples that have become "gangrenous" he noted. 

“Let us not tire of crying out “no to war”, in the name of God and in the name of every man and woman who aspires for peace.”

Recalling that fraternity is also fragile as it is precious, the Pope said that "the feeling of fraternity uniting us is stronger than hatred and violence" and that in our common suffering the sense of “feeling together” can lead to a spark that can "rekindle the light that stops the night of conflicts."

With fraternity, change for the better

Believing that we are all brothers and sisters helps us look beyond our own ethnic and cultural roots to see our common human dignity that merits respect, he epxlained. And when individuals and communities choose fraternity, policies can change for the better, the Pope observed. Whether policies that safeguard the environment, ensure a just wage for work, or efforts to covercome past wrongs, all can lead to hope, prosperity, justice and healing. 

Nobel Prize laureates

In conclusion, the Pope thanked the organizers of the meeting and paid tribute to the Declaration on Human Fraternity drafted earlier in the day by the 30 distinguished Nobel Laureates also present in Saint Peter's Square, saying it offers a guide for living fraternity and witnessing to it every day in concrete ways.

“I wish you to keep in your hearts and memories the desire to embrace the women and men of the world in order to build together a culture of peace. Indeed, peace needs fraternity and fraternity needs encounter.”

Representatives of the group of Nobel Laureates, Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Dr. Nadia Murad, presented the Declaration on Human Fraternity during the event, with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, putting his signature to it.

Declaration on Human Fraternity

ROME, St. Peter's Square, June 10th, 2023

"We are diverse, we are different, we have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and sisters and we want to live in peace" (Pope Francis).

Every man is our brother, every woman is our sister, always. We want all to live together, as brothers and sisters in the Garden that is the Earth. The Garden of fraternity is the condition for all life.

We are witnesses of how, in every corner of the world, lost harmony blooms again when dignity is respected, tears are wiped away, work is fairly remunerated, education is guaranteed, health is cared for, diversity is appreciated, nature is restored, justice is honored, and communities face their loneliness and their fears.

Together, we choose to live our relationships based on fraternity, fueled by dialogue and by forgiveness that "does not mean forgetting" (Fratelli tutti, n. 250), but renounces and does not "yield to the same destructive force” (FT, n. 251) whose consequences we all suffer from.

United with Pope Francis, we want to reaffirm that "authentic reconciliation does not flee from conflict, but is achieved in conflict, resolving it through dialogue and open, honest and patient negotiation." (FT, n. 244) All this within the context of the human rights framework.

We want to shout to the world in the name of fraternity: Never again war! It is peace, justice, equality that guide the fate of all mankind. No to fear, no to sexual and domestic violence! All armed conflicts must come to an end. We say no more nuclear weapons, no more land mines. No more forced migrations, ethnic cleansing, dictatorships, corruption and slavery. Let us stop the manipulation of technology and AI, let us put fraternity before technological development, so that it may permeate it.

We encourage countries to promote joint efforts in order to create a society of peace, for example by instituting Ministries of Peace.

We commit ourselves to healing the land stained by the blood of violence and hatred, by social inequalities and corruption of the heart. Let us counter hatred with love.

Compassion, sharing, generosity, sobriety, and responsibility are for us the choices that nurture personal fraternity, the fraternity of the heart.

Growing the seed of spiritual fraternity begins with us. It is enough to plant a small seed each day in our relationships: our homes, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, public squares, and within decision-making institutions.

We also believe in social fraternity that recognizes equal dignity for all, fosters friendship and belonging, promotes education, equal opportunities, decent work and social justice, hospitality, solidarity and cooperation, social solidarity economy and a just ecological transition, a sustainable agriculture that ensures access to food for all, thus favouring harmonious relationships based on mutual respect and caring for the welfare of all.

In this perspective, it is possible to develop proximity actions and human laws, because "fraternity necessarily calls for something greater, which in turn enhances freedom and equality" (FT, n. 103).

Together, we want to build an environmental fraternity, to make Peace with nature, knowing that "everything is in relation to everything else": the fate of the world, the care of creation, the harmony of nature and sustainable lifestyles. We want to build the future on the notes of Saint Francis's Canticle of the Creatures, the song of eternal Life. The plot of universal fraternity weaves the threads of the Canticle's verses: everything is in relation, and in relation with everything and everyone is Life.

Therefore, we, gathered on the occasion of the first World Meeting on Human Fraternity, call on all women and men of goodwill to embrace our appeal to fraternity. Our children, our future can only thrive in a world of peace, justice and equality, to the benefit of the single human family: only fraternity can generate humanity.

It is up to our freedom to want fraternity and to build it together, in unity. Join us in signing this appeal to embrace this dream and transform it into daily practices, so that it reaches the minds and hearts of all leaders and of those who, at every level, have a small or great civic responsibility.

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10 June 2023, 17:45